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Approval sought for housing budget

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Plans to invest more than a quarter of a billion pounds in housing services will go before Dudley Council’s cabinet later this month.

When it meets on February 12, members will be asked to approve the £85million housing budget for the new financial year and the £173 million capital investment programme over the next four years.

The proposed housing budget for 2020/2021 includes £19.5million allocated to housing management to cover day-to-day duties such as income collection, tenancy enforcement, and support for vulnerable tenants as well as lettings and void management.

It also includes £23.7million to cover the cost of responsive repairs and routine void works as well as annual statutory duties such as servicing of gas appliances, electrical inspections and lift servicing.

The report to cabinet also proposes investment of £173million over the next four years to support improvements to council homes, including the replacement of kitchens and bathrooms, new central heating, insulation and other improvements that will help to alleviate fuel poverty, and works to help people to continue to live independently in their own homes.

The council will also continue its programme of high quality new council house building.

The proposed budget also takes into account changes to rent charges. For the last four years, the government has imposed a one percent reduction to social landlords’ rents.

From April 2020, the council, along with other authorities, will be able to increase rent in line with government guidelines. The budget proposes a 2.7 percent increase, which will see the average weekly rent increase from £76.47 to £78.53. This is the first increase for five years.

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing, communities and residents’ welfare, said:

This budget outlines our commitment to tenants that we will continue to invest in their homes and the services which help to manage and maintain them.
The budget also includes, for the first time in five years, a small rent increase, this additional income for the authority will allow us to invest more in services for tenants, while keeping rents lower than they were when we first began the rent decrease.

Cabinet will also be asked to approve a small increase to garage rents, taking into account inflation over the last three years. Garage rents were last increased in April 2017.

Members will be asked to approve all of these proposals along with a revised capital programme and a 30 year business plan for the Housing Revenue Account.

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